Welcome back! Last week we discussed medication and your oral health. This week you will discover what side effects are caused by specific medications.

What medications cause dry mouth?

Studies show that there are over 400 different types of medication that can cause dry mouth. While we can not list all of them, here are the main groups to look out for.

  • Antacids
  • Painkillers
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • High Blood pressure medication  
  • Antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxants


What medications cause tooth decay?

You might have guessed already but dry mouth can potentially lead to tooth decay. So any medication that is linked to dry mouth can be linked to tooth decay.

Saliva protects the teeth and restores the mouth back to a healthy environment, medications can affect and reduce the saliva flow therefore changing the environment and leaving the teeth more vulnerable to bad bacteria.

However, there are medications that can lead to tooth decay, that may not cause dry mouth. Some of these may surprise your.

  • Vitamins
  • Liquid medications
  • Cough drops
  • Antifungal medication


What medications effects my gums?

Not to sound like a broken record, but again the medication that causes dry mouth also can affect your gums. They can cause them to become puffy and swollen.

Aspirin or any blood thinners can lessen the ability for the blood to clot increasing the likelihood of bleeding gums and excessive bleeding during oral surgery.

The  medications below can cause your gums to grow or enlarge, making it difficult  for you to clean adequately, known as gingival overgrowth.

  • Antiseizure medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Some Cardiovascular medication


What else?

While dry mouth and tooth decay are the obvious side effects from medications there are a few others to look out for.

  • Inhalers that include steroids can cause tooth erosion
  • Antibiotics can cause staining. The main victim, children under the age of 8.
  • Mouthrinses can also cause discolouration after prolonged use.
  • Immunosuppressive agents, oral contraceptive pill and certain chemotherapy medications can cause inflammation, mouth sores and discolouration of soft tissue.
What can be done?

Whilst stopping your medication is usually not an option there are steps you can take to help these side effects

  • Always understand and learn the side effects your medication may cause
  • Discuss possible alternatives to some of your medication, that may have lesser side effects.
  • Always tell your dentist what medications you are on.


Hartwell Dentistry’s dentists or oral health therapists can recommend certain mouth-rinses or toothpastes that can help keep your mouth healthy. They can also assess and improve your home care regime.

If you are undergoing any oral surgery it is important that you let your dentist know. These medications can complicate the procedure and also have an effect on the healing process. Even fish oil can affect dental procedures.